Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bravo, Derrick!

Derrick Jackson's column in today's Boston Globe, entitled "The antigay obsession", prompts me to write on a related topic. I have not used this page to comment on current political and social issues, preferring to focus on hospital topics, but I think this is important. And it does relate to medicine and the BIDMC, too.

Beth Israel Hospital was established in 1916 because of discrimination against Jewish doctors and Jewish patients. Open access was therefore a deeply held belief at that hospital, and it is a belief that persists with the new BIDMC. We welcome all ethnic, racial, religious, and cultural groups, and we do our best to treat everyone the same, i.e, as though they were members of our own family. This includes people of all sexual orientations: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, and transgender.

This is not only a matter of social justice. It is a matter of life and death. To discriminate on any basis whatsoever is to say that some people are entitled to better care than others. We just do not accept this.

Mr. Jackson's article cites people from religious organizations who say negative things about gay people and about gay marriage. I understand that homosexuality makes some people uncomfortable, and I also understand that gay marriage makes some people uncomfortable. What I don't understand is why they can't ease off and just leave people alone to live their lives.

Unfortunately, our own Governor Romney is in this camp. Fortunately, his term ends soon, and we will be rid of his distressing and nasty speeches on this issue in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, he feels that taking this position will help him in a run for national office, and so now he will express it in a bigger forum. I hope that the vast majority of people in the country agree with Derrick's column and with the people he quotes from South Africa, a country that truly understands discrimination: "This country cannot afford to be a prison of timeworn prejudices which have no basis in modern society."


Anonymous said...

I didn't know that about the history of Beth Israel. Very enlightening. Thanks for speaking up for justice for all people.

Myclob said...

* “This is a subject about which people have tender emotions in part because it touches individual lives. It also has been misused by some as a means to promote intolerance and prejudice. This is a time when we must fight hate and bigotry, when we must root out prejudice, when we must learn to accept people who are different from one another. Like me, the great majority of Americans wish both to preserve the traditional definition of marriage and to oppose bias and intolerance directed towards gays and lesbians.”
o Governor Mitt Romney, 06-22-2004 Press Release

* “Preserving the definition of marriage should not infringe on the right of individuals to live in the manner of their choosing. One person may choose to live as a single, even to have and raise her own child. Others may choose to live in same sex partnerships or civil arrangements. There is an unshakeable majority of opinion in this country that we should cherish and protect individual rights with tolerance and understanding. “
o Governor Mitt Romney, 06-22-2004 Press Release

Anonymous said...

Some courses of action are better than others.The formation and maintenance of opposite-sex relationships,exclusively capable of perpetuating humanity,must be granted unambiguous preference over that of same-sex relationships.This is a case where true justice forbids,not demands,"equality".

Kelly Thatcher said...

And it does relate to medicine and the BIDMC, too.

How is that? This post puzzles me.

Nobody mentioned in either your post nor in Mr. Jackson's column is advocating discrimination against any group of people...including those with homosexual tendencies.

Nobody mentioned is promoting the withholding of medical care from any group. Actually, nobody is suggesting that anybody -- including homosexual men and women -- be denied the right to marry.

To discriminate on any basis whatsoever is to say that some people are entitled to better care than others. We just do not accept this.

What hospital in Massachusetts does?

Nancy Nangeroni said...

And a bravo to you, too!

Anonymous said...

Dear Kelley,

Look at the comment right above yours, where is it is clear that the commenter opposes gay marriage. Look, too, at the religious leaders quoted in Jackson's column, who believe that gay people are "disordered".

The medical connection is clear to me: If a doctor or hospital believed that a person of a certain religion or ethnic group was deficient, do you think it would be possible for them to provide an equal level of care? I think not. I view the current topic as analogous.

Unknown said...

Kelly, Catholic hospitals do. They refuse to perform abortions, which is rank discrimination. They put their own religious beliefs over a woman seeking a pregnancy termination.

Christopher Davis said...

Here's a very relevant scenario:

Person A is in a car accident, and is taken to a hospital.

Person B, their partner, wants to visit them.

If A and B are married, this is simple. B shows up, says tht they want to see their spouse, maybe shows some ID...and gets in.

If A and B can't marry, though, the hospital can deny visitation, and many have.

There are several such stories here.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Now if only health insurance companies will see things the same way...

Anonymous said...

Domenico Bettinelli, on a site called, states:

"I see. Well, this is great news. Since Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital does not discriminate “on any basis whatsoever” I would like free health care.

"Hey, I can’t afford it. I’m unemployed and health insurance is expensive so I want Paul Levy to live up to his bluster and give me and my family free care at Beth Israel. Oh, and I don’t want that “charity” health care they usually give out, the minimal “free clinic” stuff. I want the same level of care that Levy gets.

"Isn’t refusing that same level of health care to someone who can’t pay discrimination? And Levy did say that there was no basis whatsoever for discrimination.

"Yeah, I thought so. Typical liberal double standard."

Dear Mr. Bettinelli,

We do provide free care at the hospital, and it is the same care as care that is paid for.

That is legally required in Massachusetts, but it has also been part of the credo for this hospital for generations.

(As for your family, if you are talking about children, we are not licensed to give pediatric care, but there are several hospitals in the city who provide that.)

Anonymous said...

Christopher's comment is pertinent on this topic, and I thank him for helping to clarify some aspects of the marriage issue.

Anonymous said...

On the Romney question, myclob, I understand that "distressing and nasty" is in the mind of the beholder. Check

"In a passionate pitch simulcast to millions of Christian conservatives across the nation, Gov. Mitt Romney blasted gay marriage in Massachusetts as a danger to kids and urged the passage of a national ban on same-sex marriage.

“The price of same-sex marriage is paid by the children,” said...

Similar language used to be used against interracial marriage when some politicians played to a certain audience. Maybe that is why I am so sensitive on the issue. It feels nasty to me. I am sorry if you think that is overstated.

Kelly Thatcher said...

I wasn't going to bring it up, but:

Kelly, Catholic hospitals do. They refuse to perform abortions, which is rank discrimination.

Against whom?

If, as John Kerry has noted, human life begins at conception, aren't hospitals who refuse to perform abortions merely refusing to discrimate against people simply because they are unborn?

As Mr. Levy has noted:

This is not only a matter of social justice. It is a matter of life and death.

By the way, Catholic hospitals are certainly not the only ones who refuse to perform abortions.

Anonymous said...

Having now permitted these two comments to be posted, I will now say that I do not intend to cover the abortion issue on this blog. It is not the focus of this website, and I don't want to provide more space here for that topic. So if anyone wants to offer more thoughts on that topic, he or she should go to another site.

Bwana said...

Aside from the occasional example of in-vitro-fertilization that someone may be able to raise, it should be kept in mind that every gay person is the product of a heterosexual marriage.

People who are in gay marriages do not reproduce - except as above noted where one partner may be a donor of sperm or a mother with donated sperm. There is no research of which I am aware that such "offspring" are more (or less) likely to be gay.

If people would keep in mind that there is nothing about non-gay (i.e. heterosexual) marriages that ensures the continuation of their sense of "morality" we might have a different view of tolerance.

But then, bigots and people who think their view of morality is superior to that of others, don't keep much in mind, do they?

I'm not gay. But it doesn't diminish my marriage of 33+ years a whit that someone loves another human being, of whatever gender.

Keeping in mind your admonition about the abortion issue, I have long wanted to write an "educational" piece about Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Georgia (the two cases decided together in that fateful decision). I will post that as a breakfast with bwana piece and let you know. People will be surprised to know what the two cases actually decided. It was NOT, as many people think, that the US Supreme Court legalized abortion out of the blue.

Finally, on the gay marriage issue, it troubles me that we have not focused on a simple aspect of it. The state recognizes the acts of many religions in declaring two people as married. What if a "gay" church were to have a marriage ceremony? How could the state, without violating the 1st and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution accept the acts of one "church" but not the other?

Anonymous said...


You say: "The formation and maintenance of opposite-sex relationships,exclusively capable of perpetuating humanity,must be granted unambiguous preference over that of same-sex relationships."

So infertile people shouldn't be allowed to marry? People past reproductive age should get divorced? Heterosexual couples who just don't want children should stay single?

What about queer people who do have their own biological children? I know one lesbian who is deeply in love with her partner and who just became pregnant with twins. I think she's doing her part to perpetuate humanity, and I think they're going to be wonderful parents. Those kids are going to be cherished, in a way that some children born to some het couples are not. They had to put some heavy duty thought into even trying to have these children, whereas entirely too many straight folks just get pregnant accidentally or because they think it's what you do, without considering the consequences.

When DSS, Catholic Charities, and other adoption agencies have to close their doors because every child is healthy and loved in a safe environment, then you can talk to me about how marriage needs to be reserved for straights for the good of the children. Until then, I'll continue to admire good parenting regardless of the sex, gender, orientation, or marital status of the good parents.

Domenico Bettinelli said...


That's great news. I'll be canceling my expensive insurance plan and I'll start making appointments for regular checkups and various other needs and, of course, you won't be sending me any bills. That's a relief.

Oh and I'll encourage my friends and families to do the same. After all, like you said, you don't want to give preferential treatment to anyone or discriminate in any way.